How to Sharpen a Straight Razor

How to Sharpen a Straight Razor

Learning how to shave with a straight razor can be very rewarding. Replacing dull blades can be expensive throughout the year. Using a straight razor, you can learn how to sharpen a straight razor and spend less money in the long run.

When Should You Sharpen

Once your blade gets dull, you can really feel the difference. If you’re using a normal safety razor, all you would have to do is pop out the old one and replace it with a new one. But with a straight blade, it takes more time. When shaving, once the razor starts to pull and isn’t as smooth as it once was, it’s time to sharpen it.

Stropping vs Honing 

Straight razor sitting on a table
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The first thing you need to know about how to sharpen a straight razor is that there are two different methods.

Stropping

Stropping is when you polish the blade before or after you use it. This process will help maintain the blade. It’s important to learn and practice this skill because you will have to do it every time you shave. This will work for some time, but eventually, honing your blade will be required.

Honing

This sharpens the blade. The skillset is similar to stropping, but it takes more time and attention to detail.

You will need good tools to sharpen your blade. Cheaply made tools can make it very hard to sharpen your razor so it’s important to take your time, do research, and get the right tools.

Sharpening Tools You Need

Shaving a man's beard with a straight razor
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For stropping, the most popular one is a hanging strop. This strop hangs on a doorknob or a hook and is pulled tight to use. It is very easy to store. This one is a little difficult to use, so it will take a little bit of time to learn.

For honing, the recommended stone or film is synthetic water stones. This one can be used for beginners as well as professionals. This stone will give you consistent results. 

One thing that is also important is the grit of the stone. Grit is how fine the stone is. The lower the grit is, the less fine it is. You should be using 1,000 grit to 10,000 grit.

You will also need a clean water source to keep the stone lubricated. The best thing to use is a spray bottle but you can use a cup or a sink as well.

How to Use a Strop

Make Sure it is Warm and Clean

You can do this by rubbing the palm of your hand up and down the strop to warm it up and clean it.

Place the Razor Gently on the Strop

When placing it on the strop make sure the blade is facing you and you’re not applying any pressure. Gently slide the blade away from you, again not putting any pressure at all. 

Going the opposite way

Now, flip the razor so the blade is facing away from you. Do the same thing as the second step except the razor should be coming towards you. Repeat these two steps 20-40 times. You want to begin slow the first few times so you don’t damage the blade. This can be a little time-consuming, but once you get the hang of it you will see yourself going faster.

How to Hone a Straight Razor

This can be a little more difficult because there are many different tools you can use and different ways to hone your razor. We are going to keep it simple and will be using the synthetic water stone. 

Set Up Your Workspace

Straight razor with sharpening tools

Make sure you have room to work. Have the stone soaked and either a spray bottle or a source of clean water close by. Your stone should be on a flat surface as well.

Set the Razor Flat on the Stone

Before starting make sure to spray the stone with water. The blade should be facing away from you. Put your hand on top of the blade to ensure that it stays flat and the other hand on the handle. 

Stroke the Razor on the Stone

The razor should be facing away from you. Without any pressure, gently push the razor away from you. After each stroke spray water on the stone to make sure it is properly lubricated. 

Roll the razor on its spine so the blade is facing you. Rolling it on its spine helps with protecting the blade. Now, push the blade towards yourself without any pressure. Repeat this step until the blade is sharp. 

Shave Test

Once you try shaving and it feels comfortable without any pulling, then it is sharp enough. There are a few other tests, but this is the most important one. 

Conclusion: How to Sharpen a Straight Razor

Learning how to sharpen a straight razor can be a little time-consuming. But when you figure it out, it will be worth it in the long run. Not only is it cheaper, but it is also overall healthier for your skin. 

Written by Daren Phu

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